South San Francisco, CA September 13, 2016 BY AUSTIN WALSH SAN MATEO DAILY JOURNAL REBROADCAST
South City school bond costs grow: School officials hike campus building expenses
September 12, 2016, 05:00 AM By Austin Walsh Daily Journal
A school construction spending plan in South San Francisco already substantially over budget became even more expensive, as school officials added another $2 million to the district’s bond building program.
The South San Francisco Unified School District Board of Trustees approved during a meeting Thursday, Sept. 8, adding $2.1 million to the building budget for school campus construction financed by Measure J.
The district’s troubled bond, discovered to have been overspent by roughly $11 million, grew even expensive as officials scramble to find funds for ongoing construction at Buri Buri Elementary School.
Board President Patrick Lucy said officials believe allocating the additional funds is necessary to complete the projects promised to voters who approved the $162 million tax measure in 2010.
“We are going to do whatever we can to make sure Buri Buri gets done to the best of the ability that we can do,” he said.
Construction at the school has been a headache for both officials and community members over the past year, as the campus renovation has taken longer than expected to complete and the ongoing work been a constant source of frustration for neighbors living adjacent to the campus. Some nearby residents have filed claims against the district, claiming the ongoing work has caused damage to their homes.
Under its action, the board allocated $1.8 million of the total proposed price adjustment to work at Buri Buri Elementary School, most of which will pay toward safety and access improvements and construction of a multi-purpose building, according to district documents.
Officials earlier this year terminated the contract for USS Cal Builders, the company responsible for the initial phase of construction at Buri Buri. The move came months after former bond director Larry Scott and former superintendent Alejandro Hogan left the district in advance of the bond audit’s release identifying the financial mismanagement.
The district has since identified a new management team, and work is expected to soon proceed with money set aside for closeout of construction work at the school based on a previous agreement with USS Cal Builders, according to a district report.
The most recent budget projection shows the Buri Buri work could cost nearly $11 million, up from the $9 million originally anticipated. To account for the total amount the bond was overdrawn, officials agreed months ago to transfer funds from the district’s general fund.
Following the money transfer to accommodate work at Buri Buri, a final phase of construction work at Sunshine Gardens and Martin elementary schools was temporarily postponed while officials reconsidered the district’s finances.
But during the most recent meeting, officials addressed a master plan for renovation work at Martin Elementary School and construction at the campus could begin next summer, according to the report.
Renovation to restrooms, infrastructure improvements, new classroom construction, relocation of administrative offices, library remodels and other work at Martin Elementary School could cost about $8 million, according to the report.
Should the work move ahead as anticipated, it could take roughly two years to finish.
Lucy said he believed it is important officials follow through on their commitment to improve the Martin Elementary School campus.
“Because Martin was pushed to the back of the line, the board wants to help benefit Martin,” said Lucy.
He said the dedication to finish the work at Buri Buri Elementary School and complete the vision of Martin Elementary School is indicative of the desire for officials to deliver projects promised under Measure J, despite the adverse conditions.
“We want to make sure Measure J gets taken care of to the best of our ability,” he said.
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